Painless ways I save money in every category of my budget

I get frustrated when people don't understand what it means to be frugal. A few criticisms of frugality I've come across:

  • Frugality is a waste of time.

  • Frugality distracts you from earning more money.

  • Frugal people deny themselves of any enjoyment.

I've already written in detail about how these arguments are silly. They might apply to being cheap, but they don't apply to being frugal.

The Point of Being Frugal

My two favorite splurges are dining out and travel. Over the past few months, I've splurged quite a bit. One night, driving home from dinner with a friend, a little voice in my head said:

“Kristin, you really need to start cutting back. Go home and look at your budget, I bet it's bad. I bet your checking account is getting dangerously low.”

When I went home and checked out my accounts, everything was fine. Despite being a little spend-happy lately, I had considerably more money in my accounts than I expected. “How is this possible?” I wondered, and then I realized: it's just me being frugal.

As I've seen so many frugal enthusiasts point out: It pays to save money on the things you don't care about, so you can spend it on the things you enjoy. To me, that's what frugality is all about. It's not about depriving myself. It's about being able to spend my hard-earned money without worrying about wrecking my budget.

No matter my earnings, without frugality, my lifestyle would catch up to my income, and I wouldn't be able to enjoy guilt-free spending on the things I love.

Anyway, instead of simply complaining (again) about the myths of frugality, I thought I'd put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. Frugality doesn't have to be time-consuming, distracting or painful. I've put together a list of simple, painless ways I save money in every category of my budget.

Auto Insurance

— Pay the premium up front: This doesn't save a huge amount of money, but it takes zero extra time. I simply type a few extra digits into the “amount” field when I pay my bill online. Then, I don't have to worry about it for six months — plus I get an instant discount.

I suppose you might want to compare the savings with what you could earn if you were to invest that amount, but it's probably not going to be worth it, as you'd have to pay a monthly premium anyway.

— Combine policies: In the past, I've also combined my auto insurance policy with my renter's insurance. When I got a new car, the discount went away for some reason. But it's worked in the past, and all it took was asking if they have a multi-policy discount.

Electricity

— Use a power strip: It's not worth unplugging every single device in your home that draws even the slightest amount of electricity. But some devices — like your TV or your computer — draw a significant amount, and those are worth monitoring. I connect these devices to a power strip hub so that, at night, I can turn everything off at once. For example, the power strip for my home office includes my desktop, my printer, my external hard drive and my laptop. To make it even more painless, invest in a smart power strip.

Television and Internet

— Periodic negotiating: I hate calling my provider every six months to negotiate, so it is a little painful. But you only have to do it once, and your savings continue for a while. Before I call, I look for a cheaper online rate for new customers, then I tell them I want that rate.

— Buy your own modem: Both of the Internet service providers I've used in the past seven years have charged a dumb rental rate for using their modem. But you can bypass this monthly cost by buying your own. You can probably find some pretty good eBay deals on used modems too — or check a local thrift store. Yes, you have to set it up. But do this once, and you continue to save each and every month.

— Cutting the cord, maybe: This year, I also got rid of cable. A lot of people consider this a painless way to save a sizeable amount. Most people who cancel say they don't even miss it. I have to admit: I do miss it. I'm glad I cancelled because I was watching a lot of mindless television; but I kind of miss the mindless TV, even if it was bad for me. So I didn't feel like this method was particularly painless for me because sometimes I just want to watch reruns of the Golden Girls, and now I can't. Still, it was an expensive bill. And right now, my other splurges are worth more to me.

Mobile Phone

— Switch to a discount carrier: With my old carrier, I was paying about $55 a month, which I thought was decent for unlimited talk and text and 1 GB of data. But I switched to a discount carrier and now I pay about $30 a month. I use Ting, but I've also heard good things about Republic Wireless. So far, I notice absolutely no difference in call quality, speed, etc.

Restaurants

— Go to happy hour: Sometimes I enjoy a nice restaurant without spending too much by checking out their happy hour menu. This is especially fun and easy when you're traveling. During our first trip to Seattle, my boyfriend and I stopped at The Palace because they had a decent happy hour. It was cheap and delicious, and it's now become a Seattle tradition for us.

— Drinks and appetizers: Half the fun of dining out, to me, is just the experience. Another way to enjoy the experience without forking over a ton of cash: just buy a drink or appetizers. For date night, my boyfriend and I have started eating dinner at home, and then we go out for drinks afterward. Our bill is a lot less and we enjoy ourselves just as much.

Groceries

— Make the most out of ingredients: Meal-planning is key for this, but I'm not the best meal-planner. So I use apps and websites that help me quickly look for recipes that overlap ingredients. Supercook is my favorite.

— Use a subscription service: I signed up for Amazon Subscribe and Save. You “subscribe” to household goods on Amazon, and they deliver them to your home as regularly as you want. Shipping is free and you get a small discount. Because you can also search for the best deal, I've found that my savings are comparable to the savings I'd get using coupons or searching for in-store deals. More importantly, I set it up once and I never really have to think about it again.

And, no, they're not paying me to mention their service.

Travel

Because travel is one of my favorite splurges and it's so expensive, I'm fine with spending a little more time and effort looking for ways to save in this area. This usually includes researching prices and flying on crappy airlines, which some might consider a pain. But since this is a post about simple, painless ways to save, I'll share a few of those.

— Pack light: I use a few efficient packing tips that help ensure I never have to check a bag. For example, I recently discovered the “Skivvy Roll,” and this has been especially effective. You tightly roll up an outfit into a cylinder shape, then secure it with socks. Do it right, and you'll save space and avoid wrinkles. I also wear my heaviest stuff on the plane and utilize my shoe space. On a recent trip to Houston, I was able to carry four days' worth of stuff, and gifts for friends, in a small backpack.

Years ago, I took a two-week trip to Europe, so checking a bag was inevitable. But I accumulated some souvenirs during my travels and I didn't want to check two bags. So I decided to ship my dirty clothes home at the end of the trip, which was cheaper than buying a second bag.

— Travel on holidays: Thankfully, my family enjoys picking me up at the airport on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day (or at least they say they do), so I can fly home on these days for half the price. It's kind of fun, too.

Clothing

— Buy secondhand: According to the Vimes ‘Boots' theory, it's better to spend more money on a pair of boots you'll have for ten years than to buy a cheap pair of boots you'll have to replace every year. (Confession: I once used this as a justification for buying a $200 coat.)

I'm totally on board with the argument for buying quality, but you can buy quality at a discount. Not everyone is into buying secondhand, but, well, I am. Especially if you hit up secondhand stores in affluent neighborhoods, you can find some great, cheap stuff. A lot of the clothing I've purchased at Wasteland or Crossroads or Buffalo Exchange still had price tags on it!

“But you have to wade through so much crap,” a friend once said of my secondhand habit.

Go to the right places and, no, you don't. In fact, I usually avoid the Wasteland in my neighborhood because there's so much stuff I'm tempted to buy.

Entertainment

— Discount movie theaters: I love the experience of going to the movies, but I usually don't need to see a movie as soon as it comes out. Discount theaters show movies that have been released for a while, and there's a great one near me. It's clean, it's quiet, they've got balcony seating and, more importantly, it's half the price of any other movie theater.

— Discount days: Most movie chains have some kind of discount day where they offer a buck or two off their ticket prices. Usually, this is on a Tuesday, and it makes for a good, discounted date night.

— Free museum days: If you've got a Bank of America account or credit card, you can get into many museums for free on the first weekend of every month. A lot of museums also have some kind of “free museum day” for all patrons.

— Becoming a concert “street team” member: I've only done this a few times, but it was so easy and so worth it. My friends have signed us up to become “street team” members for a couple of shows they've wanted to see. We got to see the show for free, and all we had to do was put a few postcards on tables before it started. In some cases, we even got free merchandise or drinks! Matisyahu was probably the most fun, and we even had a beer with the band afterward.

Categories I Skipped

There are a few budget categories I didn't include: transportation — because I hardly spend anything on it since I work from home — and housing, because I haven't quite figured out a simple way to save in this area yet. Some of you have had success negotiating your rent, which sounds like a great way to save on probably the most expensive area of your budget.

At any rate, these are the most worthwhile strategies I use to stay frugal with my expenses. When I say “most worthwhile,” I mean that they're easy and painless — especially when I consider the savings.

Despite the stereotype, frugal people don't drive across town to save a penny on gas. We don't quit our jobs to coupon forty hours a week. That's not frugal. Being frugal is about optimizing your resources, and that includes your time. Not every savings method is time-consuming or difficult. Some of them are pretty simple and pretty painless.

So tell me — what are some easy and worthwhile ways you save?

More about...Frugality, Budgeting, Insurance, Planning, Travel

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Millionaires Giving Money
Millionaires Giving Money
5 years ago

One painless way I save is by ordering my groceries online through Tesco’s. Normally I would spend anything up to and beyond £50 on my weekly shop. Buying items online means that I can easily spend £25 per week on things I need and have then delivered with a super saver discount which comes to about 50 Pence per week. This has helped slash my Grocery Bills and I don’t feel deprived at all. Great post Miss Wong!

Beth
Beth
5 years ago

A good collection of ideas:) Just a thought — call and ask your insurance provider to bundle your policies again. There’s no reason the deal should be off because your car is new. (it’s actually an advantage for your insurance company that you are driving a newer car). Also, for modem and cable — it’s possible to negotiate deals that waive the rental, especially if your services are bundled. (When the free period is up, there’s sometimes an option to buy the item at a discounted rate). See what competitors are offering and give them a call I have zero… Read more »

Chels
Chels
5 years ago
Reply to  Beth

You mention your height- not sure if you are tall or short, but I do have some success finding long pants at thrift stores! When pants are hung vertically I look at the bottom to see which pants hang longer than the others. I grab those and they are usually a size long. (I’m 5’11” and female). Also, my coat cost $200 and I’ve never regretted it. I’ve never had a coat that nice and I live where there are harsh winters. It’s so nice to not have to put 4 layers on.

Beth
Beth
5 years ago
Reply to  Chels

Tall with a long torso. Thanks for the tip with the pants — I’ll give that a try 🙂 Tops, well, I do love the long sweater trend!

I’ve discovered around here that the longer length pants are more likely to end up on clearance, so I usually have luck buying new. Sometimes they’re a little too long, but a needle and thread fixes that right up.

Melissa
Melissa
5 years ago

We do pretty much everything you said. We save big on utilities by using zone heating (keeping thermostat low and using space heater in the room we’re in) and by cranking that woodstove when we want it to be toasty. Our electric bill is routinely around $50. And ditto to the cell phone service…I can’t believe what people pay for cell phone plans. We use Ting and while the data can be disappointing at times, the savings is well worth it (plus we didn’t have data before Ting anyway). Also we use DSL “lite”, which won’t let you stream multiple… Read more »

NicoleAndmaggie
NicoleAndmaggie
5 years ago

Bonus points for the Pratchett reference.

Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom
Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom
5 years ago

We’re a single income family and our brand of frugal runs more on the cheap side of things. But the principle is the same: save on things you don’t care a bout to splurge where it matters (for us that’s time).

Thanks for showing so many painless ways to save a significant amount of money!

(I don’t miss TV at our house, but I do watch an awful lot of mindless TV at my in-laws…)

breanna @ subtle cues
breanna @ subtle cues
5 years ago

Great advice! I particularly am with you on the restaurant ones. My friends and I go out to eat a lot so we started to pick the places that have the best specials and will only go on those nights throughout the week. It saves us a lot!

Old Guy
Old Guy
5 years ago

Easiest way to save money? Drink alcohol at home with friends instead of at restaurants with friends.

Tricia
Tricia
5 years ago

I also like secondhand stores. You can find some real steals there. I also shop sales and outlet stores. Rarely do I buy full-price clothing. I recently picked out a pair of boots at a store, then went home and found them online for half the price, with free shipping. I don’t enjoy eating out. I can make a much nicer, less expensive meal at home, and have the benefits of leftovers another day. So while, I think I spend a lot on groceries, I really don’t have a dining out budget, so it probably evens out. We’ve had some… Read more »

PawPrint
PawPrint
5 years ago
Reply to  Tricia

I really like the idea of the toaster oven and blender. Thanks!

Adam
Adam
5 years ago

Just want to point out that it’s a modem you need to buy, not a router. The modem is what connects you to your ISP’s network, a router is what you use for your internal network, and to add wireless capabilities. There are some models that are both a modem and a router all-in-one.

Always check with your ISP before buying a modem, to ensure it is compatible. In my case, Time Warner keeps a list online. I bought a used model on Amazon for $60, which paid for itself in ten months.

Linda Vergon
5 years ago
Reply to  Adam

I updated the article. Thanks, Adam, for the technical assist!

Linda Vergon, Editor

Beth
Beth
5 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Mine is a 2-in-1. I don’t pay a rental fee (it was part of a promo), but when that ends I’ll buy one.

I stupidly rented a modem when I got my first apartment thinking that would include upgrades. WRONG! I had the same modem for over eight years. Obviously, the company got the better end of the deal.

KWL
KWL
5 years ago

As well as using power strips to conserve electricity and save money, we have to option here to choose our electric provider. When our current contract is up, I will compare the price for fixed rate contracts in our area and if I find a better deal that what our current provider is going to start offering once our contract is up, I switch. Most of your new providers are willing to deal with your old company for you so making the switch is pretty painless. Also, we figure as long as we are renting, we might as well live… Read more »

Rachel M.
Rachel M.
5 years ago

Things we do:

-Set our thermostat to 67 degrees during the day and 65 at night during the colder months.
-No A/C in the summer, make do with fans, open windows, sitting outside, etc.
-Use Netflix instant/mailed DVDs instead of cable at $15.99 a month.
-I work at our gym so our family membership is $20 and I can bring my kids with me.
-Consistently looking for better cell phone deals with our provider. Share our plan with other people and cuts the cost.
-Negotiate price with our internet provider every quarter.

Lucy
Lucy
5 years ago
Reply to  Rachel M.

Heating and cooling is such a subjective thing, and really depends on what kind of climate you live in and how energy efficient your house is. We live in New England – so cold winters, but we still have some heat and humidity in the summer. When I first moved here, I lived in a condo that was clearly poorly insulated, and had single heater in one room (forced hot air) and really inefficiently heated the place. I’d have to keep it set on 70 to keep the place comfortable in the dead of winter, and still use a space… Read more »

KevinM
KevinM
5 years ago

If you buy ‘Energy Star’ rated TVs and computers, they use surprisingly little power when not turned on. That’s the whole point of the certification. There is a Berkeley study that shows the average electricity used when an appliance is off. The main culprits are printers, stereos, and DVD players. Energy Star computers and TVs typically use very little.

I’m at work and can’t hunt down the report, or I’d provide a link.

Ely
Ely
5 years ago

When I was fresh out of college I spend $50 on a raincoat at Ross. It was the most I’d ever paid for an article of clothing myself, and the most I’d ever spent at Ross. That was 18 years ago. I still wear that coat every fall and every spring, and it still looks every bit as good as it did in 1996. Best $50 I ever spent. I’m hearing from friends that Comcast no longer negotiates its cable packages. Is anyone else having this experience? FWIW I also missed cable when we first cut the cord; I watched… Read more »

Carol
Carol
5 years ago
Reply to  Ely

I have never had luck getting Comcast to negotiate and I have been with them for two years. We pay $80 for basic cable and Internet, and they have told me the best they can do for Internet alone is $60. And we have to pay for the modem rental on top of that. I would be fine with no cable but since it’s just $20 more my husband wants to keep it.

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am
5 years ago
Reply to  Ely

I was able to negotiate with Comcast, but I live in an area that also has FIOS. I have heard they are more willing to negotiate in areas where they don’t have a monopoly. Makes sense.

I now have all the premium movie channels and pay $15 a month less than I did without them, because I got a 3 year promo.

Short arms long pockets
Short arms long pockets
5 years ago

We have had great experiences and have saved money when travelling, by using AirBNB or Homeaway to stay in rental apartments instead of hotels. The costs per night are lower (which can allow you to get a place with an extra bedroom if you are travelling with kids). Plus you get a fully equipped kitchen – allowing you to eat out only when you want – again saving money and allowing kids to eat what they want, when they want. I enjoy visiting grocery stores and markets in other cities and countries to sample the local ingredients so this type… Read more »

Mimi
Mimi
5 years ago

Once in awhile I decide not to grocery shop for the week and just prepare meals with what’s in the refrigerator and cupboards. Since it’s only me and my husband at home, I can do this–it would be much harder with kids, I realize. But it’s kind of fun to see how creative I can be and how many meals I can get out of food already on hand–and it does save money.

Rail
Rail
5 years ago

Great article Kristen! This really is a old school GRS topic that could have been written by J.D. Living frugal is awesome, being cheep can come back to bite you in the butt. Some random things to spend money on and don’t be cheep on in no particular order. Shoes/boots, clothes, car parts( tires,battery,oil,belts,etc.), healthy food, and tools. Lets hear more ideas. Cheers!

Elvie
Elvie
5 years ago

We have been using Roku now for a couple of years and we love it. Coupled with Netflix (7.99/mth) and Amazon Prime (only because I use it for shopping) and all the many free channels Roku comes with, we have Plenty of things to watch and loads of exercise, cooking, news, movie,and other channels. And the nice thing is that you can stop it and restart it later when it’s more convenient. I’ve also been using Republic Wireless for several months now and I really like them! They give you a 30 day money back period in order to try… Read more »

Josh
Josh
5 years ago

You touched on mobile – which is a good one. We got a family plan with my brother and his wife and between both couples we will save close to $600 year.

Another one is your garbage/waste service. We just switched to another provider and will save $200/yr.

Small things add up.

Carla
Carla
5 years ago

Great post and I love your ideas! For me, part of eating out is also buying coffee out which I had to cut back on a few years ago to save money. I realized that if I were to make better coffee at home, then it will lessen the desire to go out. Buying a ceramic pour over cone and “investing” in good beans makes all the difference in the world. You pay more but upfront but you save a whole lot more in the long-run. Coffee out is now an occasion or a special treat, not a requirement. In… Read more »

Beth2
Beth2
5 years ago

I cut the cord over a year ago and haven’t regretted it as I use the library system to access recent releases and quality programming available through Acorn and Athena. I missed all the political ads over the last few months and didn’t turn to the tv out of boredom, etc. I read two to three (non) fiction books every week — again, mostly through the library or purchased used thru ABE.com or Powells.com. I also don’t stock up like I used to and instead keep only a basic freezer/dry pantry that enables me to prepare a soup or casserole… Read more »

stellamarina
stellamarina
5 years ago

Some years ago I was starting to get an expensive habit of buying large cans of ice tea. My daughter pointed out to me that I should be making my own! Duh! So now, every morning when I make my morning coffee, I heat extra water in the kettle to make a large jug of tea which gets put into a glass bottle and put in the fridge. I get to enjoy it later in the hot afternoon… in a large glass with ice and lemon…..and a lot less sugar than what is in the canned ice teas.

Jules
Jules
5 years ago

My local library has free seminars, movies, etc. each month. I just attended a “Put Your Garden to Bed” seminar that was taught by some master gardeners. The movies I cannot go to as they are usually during a work day, but when I go parttime I will go to these as well. I like to find as many free things as I can — it becomes almost a challenge to find something to do for free.

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
5 years ago
Reply to  Jules

Hooray for libraries! Can’t believe I forgot to mention that. But yeah. Our library system offers so many cool workshops and programs. They even have a whole database of free online courses.

superbien
superbien
5 years ago

I always love when Kristin Wong writes an article – always sensible, well-written, and compelling.

Another good thing to know is that many local libraries do way more than you realize, for free… here’s a sampling of things the Boston library provides this month:
*Free entrance to museums
*Audiobooks (my favorite part!)
*Teach gardening
*Internet access
*Exercise classes (like tai chi, dancing, yoga)
*Classes (art, crafts, how to knit, foreign language, creative writing, remedial computers)
*Preschool activities
*Resource for local history
*Rooms for meetings
*English as a Second Language classes
*Immigration/citizenship resources
*Concerts and exhibitions
*Author meet-n-greets
*Tutoring

Beth
Beth
5 years ago
Reply to  superbien

Our local library now has a telescope we can take out. The local Astronomical Society provided it. I haven’t taken it out yet but I’m excited about it.

Kyla
Kyla
5 years ago

Thanks for this article, Kristin! There are some great money-saving ideas here. I’m curious how you signed up to be a “street team” member for concerts? This sounds like a fantastic idea and I’d love to try it. Was there a specific company that hired you to do this or something else?

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
5 years ago
Reply to  Kyla

My friends were into marketing, so they always had an “in” about this kind of info. But anyone can do it! You just have to do a little research. I wrote about a few ways to get started here: http://www.brokepedia.com/join-a-street-team-for-free-tickets/

Kyla
Kyla
5 years ago
Reply to  Kristin Wong

Thanks! I’ll definitely check this out 🙂

PawPrint
PawPrint
5 years ago

Regarding the power strips, I’d always heard you could save money by turning off your electronics. However, if you have electronics that have timers or clocks, do you have to reset them every time you turn the power back on? Maybe I just have old electronics?

A GRS Reader
A GRS Reader
5 years ago
Reply to  PawPrint

Hi Pawprint,

Electronics with clocks have a battery to power the clocks when the electronics are off or unplugged. If you have to reset the clocks every time you turn the power back on, the battery is probably dead. The battery looks like a quarter-sized watch battery. I don’t know what they cost to replace. Hope that helps!

Martha
Martha
5 years ago

I recently made the switch to ting from Verizon. Wish I hadn’t waited so long. My bill dropped from $90/month to $17! Internet service is very expensive in my area, and the choice is between Comcast and the landline phone company (that keeps changing its name so I can’t remember what it’s called.) Both are atrocious. Then I discovered I could buy a device on Amazon that I just plug into an outlet and now I have wireless cellular internet service thru Clear. It’s half the price of Comcast or dsl, no contract, and the best part is I have… Read more »

lmoot
lmoot
5 years ago

I organize and simplify. This has helped me tremendously on my frugal journey. Once I find an item that I like, it becomes a part of my “inventory”. For long-term use items I buy the best quality I need and take good care of it, for “throw-away” items I use religiously I continue to repurchase at the best possible price, and in bulk, buying in advance to take advantage of good deals. Using the same things over and over again also helps me avoid the desire to “try” new things when the basic, cheap and quality items have worked for… Read more »

Laura
Laura
5 years ago
Reply to  lmoot

Good stuff in your comment to a good post by Kristen. For vitamins, the time to buy is January when the stores put them on sale. I use the supplement SAMe for arthritis (works magnificently!); cheapest price is the January sale of $30 for 60 tablets at BJ’s or Costco (and BJ’s will take coupons), compared to $40-$60 elsewhere and elsewhen. I usually buy the year’s worth at once. A big layout of cash but totally worth it to me.

I will have to try your skin care routine!

Kara
Kara
5 years ago

We used to negotiate with our cable company and kept the bill to roughly $40 a month. The last go-round they jacked us up to $60, and we kicked them to the curb and never looked back. Hubby bought a Roku device from a co-worker ($50, cost roughly $100 new). We pay $8 a month for Hulu Plus, which plays our favorite current primetime shows, and on occasion we’ll spend $25-35 on Amazon to purchase a season of other favorite shows we love (because missing The Walking Dead is not an option.) We get movies or older TV series we… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
5 years ago
Reply to  Kara

So who are you getting your internet service from now? It annoys me how “cord-cutters” hardly ever mention this detail.

Woodstock
Woodstock
5 years ago
Reply to  Jeff

We cut down to just basic cable (local channels, only) with Time Warner, but we are still getting internet and phone from Time Warner. Our monthly bill dropped by a little over $100.

–woodstock

jim
jim
5 years ago

Kristen,
Best blog you’ve written! Well done.

shan
shan
5 years ago

Couponing can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year on groceries. If done right you will get your personal hygiene items for free. At the most pennies on the dollar. My $14 a bag cat food (have to have) is 1/2 price with a coupon. I travel for free by putting everything on a travel reward credit card. I’ve taken 3 vacations this year. New Mexico, Tennessee/North Carolina for fall foliage & Denver Colorado white water rafting. Paid no more than $10 for round trip airfare. Hotel and rent cars were free. Only expense was gas,food &… Read more »

Beth2
Beth2
5 years ago
Reply to  shan

Now this is impressive. The credit card management is working for a lot of people I know, and now I’m taking that step. I’d like to know what you’re bartering for cleaning and lawn service. In general, I’ve walked away from coupons. Instead I buy the least processed foods I can and simply cook and bake. The savings on a monthly basis range from 30% to 60% (I buy top o’ line organic, free-range, grass-fed local meats and have cut, cut waste of any kind through careful planning of menus, leftovers, and shopping trips/stores.) Like many people, I buy personal… Read more »

Anne
Anne
5 years ago

Great tips! I have started volunteering at community races/fundraisers and have had a great time with my friends and free things to do. Most of the races, you work at a water stop or flag people to turn a corner. If you volunteer with friends you have a great time out doors and it is free. Most of the races I have volunteered for invite you to the after party, there is usually pizza, beer and a band, all for free. Also, one race gave us free tickets to a brewery beer tasting, one invited us out on a catamaran… Read more »

Lucy
Lucy
5 years ago

While I do a number of these things, one place I’ve tried to save – without luck – is Comcast. My husband needs the “fastest” internet because he works from home a lot, but apparently you can’t get the fastest internet without also getting cable TV (we also have landline bundled onto that my husband insists we keep)… I think it is a waste of money, but how to get fast internet (in a rural area with little competition) without TV?

Susanne
Susanne
5 years ago

Last year, after successfully completing Michelle Singletary’s 21-day Financial Fast, my son and I took a weekend trip to Great Wolf Lodge. A friend said, “You’re spending all that money you saved last month.” I didn’t have a reply then, but later I realized, Exactly! No credit cards were harmed during the trip because I’d been frugal the month before.

KC in GA
KC in GA
5 years ago

I don’t go to second hand stores or yard sales frequently, but I joined several local FaceBook online parents buy/sell/trade groups. I’ve gotten so many things at better prices than I can at consignment sales. People post what they want to sell, I see it, and then pick it up. Craigslist is too sketchy for me.

Lola
Lola
5 years ago

Library! Library! Library! Books, ebooks, movies, music and audiobooks! I am so thankful for free access to these items. I donate the books I do buy to the Friends of the Library when I am done with them for sale to help support the library. I am not usually a fan of spending money to save money. For example, I have never found it worth the money to buy a loyalty card at a book store or a clothing store but I do spring for a membership at my city’s art museum every year. I see EVERY exhibit plus get… Read more »

Young Millennial
Young Millennial
5 years ago

Regarding power strips, I recently saw that Home Depot sells a “smart-dumb” power strip that is cheaper than any wi-fi connected, metering, timed, etc. power strip. The power strip they sell has a master plug which is constantly monitored. If no current goes through the master, the entire strip is turned off. The strip was marketed for living room usage. For example, you plug in your TV into the master socket and your DVD player, cable box, consoles, etc. into the secondary sockets. When the TV is on and drawing current, all other sockets are on. When the TV is… Read more »

Sandy
Sandy
5 years ago

Your tips are the kinds of things I do automatically because it seems like common sense! A big savings for me was choosing furniture at an Arhaus clearance store nearby, waiting until they had a sale on top of the normal reduced prices. I have beautiful pieces at a third of the full cost, and don’t plan to ever replace them (am in mid-50s). Every day I enjoy my luxury and feel smart, too!

Regina
Regina
5 years ago

Going to local food pantries helps with the grocery bill a lot. Inflation has forced me to swallow my pride and visit food pantries. Groceries are so expensive, especially the healthy kind.

Lucy
Lucy
5 years ago
Reply to  Regina

Cutting costs on food is a touchy subject for me. My husband’s job (our primary source of income) is running a farmstand affiliated with a local organic farm. People often ask him why the costs of food at his store are so high. Let me assure you – no one is getting rich from producing local organic food! Yes it may cost more but it puts money back into the local economy, and it is healthier to eat. I sometimes find myself at the grocery store during the months his store is not open contemplating buying a cheaper, mass produced… Read more »

Regina
Regina
5 years ago

I also love the Dollar Tree. I find all kinds of things I need at the Dollar Tree for only a $1.

Cath
Cath
5 years ago

I made a coconut oil and sugar scrub to use in the shower. It replaces moisturizer and exfoliater. It absorbs well and doesn’tffeel greasy. I color my own hair and wear minimal makeup. I really spend under $100 a year on “beauty” stuff.

superbien
superbien
5 years ago

Re #55 Lucy – really good point, thank you for raising that issue. It’s one I struggle with – frugality vs health vs food ethics vs supporting local. My personal approach is to buy virtuous/expensive food when it reduces animal suffering – cage free eggs, certified humane meat (or a local alternative that follows humane practices), and grassfed milk when possible. I get a local CSA box delivered when it’s available. I buy store-brands for most other things. My big food challenges are buying packaged stuff – so I’m learning to cook from scratch from simple recipes (not the kind… Read more »

superbien
superbien
5 years ago

Re switching to Republic Wireless I would love to switch to Republic Wireless. Mr Money Mustache, J Money From Budgets Are Sexy, and you all think it’s great from a cost standpoint, and I got to the very very last stage of signing up before I got spooked and defected to a traditional company. I think it’s their loss — I have excellent credit, pay all my bills fully on time or early, and love to tell people about great services. But READ THE FINE PRINT in their legal clauses — they get to decide which of their dangerously vague… Read more »

Fred
Fred
5 years ago

This is an excellent selection of frugal saving ideas. I think one of my biggest savings came about from changing the type of cable service. I was paying over $80 a month for regular cable service (no premium channels like HBO or Showtime, just regular service), so it was costing around $1,000 a year. So I called them up and asked them what the absolute lowest cost service they could offer so that I could still maintain cable. They offered me very basic cable for only $18 a month. (I think this is a service that was probably originally set… Read more »

Nathalie
Nathalie
5 years ago
Reply to  Fred

You might want to look into getting an amped digital antenna for your TV and you will probably get all those channels off the air for free. I invested in such an antenna (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BN5Z2WM) and we get over 60 channels (we live in a semi-rural area in Central Florida, about 30 miles away from where the main stations are located), including about 6 PBS stations, AntennaTV, MeTV, This, LiveWell, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CW, all local channels, and more. My husband loves watching football but he’s been OK watching the games broadcast on NBC/CBS/ABC/FOX for the most part. Yes it’s… Read more »

ChinaMatt
ChinaMatt
5 years ago

Great simple advice. I saved a lot by getting rid of my car and renting out my parking space (I lived in a city, worked from home). And cooking cheap, healthy meals isn’t as difficult as many people make it out to be–I used to cook lentil and split pea soup most nights for about a quarter.

jcurtsi
jcurtsi
5 years ago

Make your own laundry detergent! Once weekly, buy a rotisserie chicken. Pick it to the bone and make countless meals (chicken noodle soup, tikka masala, salads, bbq, sandwiches, serve with roasted vegetables, etc!) MUCH cheaper than buying chicken parts, fresh OR frozen.

Mike from Lansdale
Mike from Lansdale
5 years ago

I’ve done many of these but recently made a lifestyle change to get on my bike. Yes, even in Pennsylvania Mid-November! I commute almost daily to work 12 miles each way and have saved $750 in gas and oil changes, plus lost 20 lbs to boot! Of course some factors are in my favor – I have a shower at work, and the route I take is relatively safe. I needed to work at that, research the route, get a very good headlight/taillight, clothing, etc., plan the weather. But I LOVE my daily commute now! The car gets a tank… Read more »

Jessica Prah
Jessica Prah
5 years ago

GIV Mobile is another cell phone service that is worth looking into in order to save money. It is a no-contract cell phone service that offers four “Unlimited Everything” plans starting at $29/month for talk, text and 2G data and $35/month for talk, text and 4G LTE data. GIV Mobile is not only an affordable service that offers a wide variety of phones to choose from, it adds a philanthropic touch by donating 8% of every customer’s monthly bill amount to up to three charities of his or her choice including Scholarship America, Kids in Need Foundation and the American… Read more »

SavvyMama
SavvyMama
5 years ago

Love the suggestions. Around travel – there’s a great app – air bnb where you can rent out someone’s home, apt, even a spare room rather than stay at a hotel. In lieu of cabs, on my last trip to New York, I used Uber and Lyft.
Around your insurance, sign up for paperless statements, there’s generally a discount associated with it.
Lastly, around the house, consider using cloth rags rather than paper towels, purchase PVC dryer balls ($5) rather than dryer sheets.

jeff
jeff
5 years ago

Here in Ohio , Armstrong cable is my sole provider. I bundle for $135/mo , cable-tv-phone. Until now, I’ve never been robbed without seeing a gun. Cable providers are one of the largest lobbyists in Washington.

sedoc
sedoc
5 years ago

Where I live (Tokyo) libraries are plenty and we have children halls. So I borrow children books and let the kids play in those halls, they have so many toys and indoor playground. I save a lot on books & toys. We have no data plan on our cellphones, save like $80 a month. It was hard at first, but humans are very good and getting used to. Now, I wouldn’t want to be connected all the time, being disconnected gives myself time to think about stuffs. I only buy games that I really want to play. The company I… Read more »

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